Document control of borders reinstated ahead of WYD

  • Lusa
  • 24 July 2023

The reinstatement of documentary border controls will remain active until 00:00 on 7 August and is "exceptional in order to safeguard possible threats to public order and internal security".

Documentary checks at air, sea and land borders in the context of World Youth Day (WYD) came into force at 00:00 on Saturday and will be carried out selectively and targeted based on information and risk analysis.

The reinstatement of documentary border controls will remain active until 00:00 on 7 August and is “exceptional in order to safeguard possible threats to public order and internal security”, according to a government resolution.

Border control in the context of WYD, an event that will take place in Lisbon between 1 and 6 August and will be attended by Pope Francis, will be conducted by the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), with the assistance of the Public Security Police (PSP) and the National Republican Guard (GNR), in addition to the possible collaboration of authorities from other countries.

In a response sent to Lusa, SEF will use the ‘SEFMobile’ system in border control, in addition to existing equipment, which allows “border controls and inspection actions to be carried out in a mobile, efficient, fast and safe way” having also distributed these devices to the GNR officers who, in collaboration with the Immigration and Borders Service, will be at land borders.

According to SEF, there are 21 authorised crossing points between Spain and Portugal, where SEF and GNR, “in a joint effort and in a concerted manner, will control the land border”.

“The controls will be selective and temporary, taking into account the risk analysis, so a permanent control device has not been set up”, specifies that security service.

SEF will operate from the five Police and Customs Cooperation Centres (CCPA) and with the collaboration of the Spanish authorities, namely the National Police Corps, which will reinforce its officers in the CCPA to collaborate in the operation.

In addition to the continuous presence in the CCPA, SEF has mobile teams that, in conjunction with the GNR, guarantee the replacement of documentary controls whenever necessary, that security force said.

SEF has reinforced the staff at the CCPA of Tui, Vilar Formoso, Caia and Castro Marim, which will be the points with the greatest flow, with a total of more than 100 inspectors involved, from north to south.

Regarding the border areas, SEF has 325 inspectors at the five international airports, complemented by PSP staff trained for this purpose.

SEF states that at airports, “special focus will be given to carrying out selective controls based on prior risk analysis for Schengen flights and for children under 18 when unaccompanied by those exercising parental responsibilities”, in addition to carrying out “a prior analysis of passenger information and establishing close cooperation and exchange of information between agencies”.

The cabinet resolution stipulates that the control “must respect the principle of proportionality, limiting itself to the minimum strictly necessary to respond to possible threats to public order and internal security” in order to mitigate the impact on the movement of people.

“Considering the size, characteristics, complexity of the event, its media visibility, the huge influx of people expected and the current threat context, there is a clear need to guarantee internal security through appropriate measures, including the prevention of entry into the national territory of citizens or groups whose behaviour may be likely to compromise security”, according to the law.

The free movement of persons and goods in the Schengen area provides that internal border control may “be reintroduced, exceptionally and for a limited period of time” if that state considers that there may be a threat to public order or internal security of the country.

This border procedure was also adopted in the context of Pope Francis’ previous visit to Portugal in 2017.